5. Oakland Floats: The Unbathing

 Distance to Complete Relaxation: 4 out of 5 spigots

Distance to complete relaxation: 4/5 spigots

One question Max likes asking children is, “What is the lowest you can jump?” It’s an unusual question because while our physical culture can be obsessed with finding out maximum energy expenditure, we rarely explore the minimum edge. A floatation tank asks, “what is the least amount of effort you can put into living at this moment?

Go to the deprivation tanks. Remove your clothes. Rinse yourself clean. Silence sound with waxed ear plugs. Slide into the salt suspension. Close the door and shut out the light.

Senses withdraw. These are the optimal conditions for meditating.  The high is the same as you would get from any kind of meditative practice—the inner experience isn’t unique.  You’re still watching a monkey brain leap around, but rather than even having the ability to fiddle with your clothing or adjust the way that you’re sitting in order to take yourself out of that discomfort, your body simply feels suspended. The largest shift you can make to your environment is to choose to have your hands above your head or at your sides.

The novelty of sensory deprivation tanks is that by limiting all your options, you’re left with a greater degree of mental spaciousness. Perhaps this is what it’s like to be in the womb. The entirety of the world is just two things: dark and liquid.


After 75 minutes, you aren’t born anew, but some inner mentality has been refreshed. New-age synth-chimes fade into the utero-tainer. Your muscles activate, only slightly, to push the door open. Once neglected retinas will increase their light absorption, infinetly-fold. Standing is really hard. Harder than you’ve ever experienced standing to be, at least since you were a peri-embryonic ten-month-old. Collapsing on the sinky couch in the lobby, you grab a mandarin.  The distinct citrus oils ionize into the air.  The first taste post soak is the tart juice running down your throat.

Most bathing is an indulgence of the senses, but deprivation tanks flip the paradigm. Oakland floats is basically an inoffensive unplace which gets out of the way of the experience—the unbathing.


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